How Massage and Exercise Release Endorphins

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How MASSAGE AND EXERCISE Release Endorphins to Benefit Your Health


Endorphins are among the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. At least 20 types of endorphins have been demonstrated in humans. Endorphins can be found in the pituitary gland, in other parts of the brain, or distributed throughout the nervous system.

Stress and pain are the two most common factors leading to the release of endorphins. Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine. In contrast to the opiate drugs, however, activation of the opiate receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.


Adrenaline is a hormone and is a “fight or flight” hormone which is released from the adrenal glands when danger threatens or in an emergency. When secreted into the bloodstream, it rapidly prepares the body for action in emergency situations. The hormone boosts the supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain and muscles, while suppressing other non-emergency bodily processes (digestion in particular).

Endorphins are endogenous opioid biochemical compounds. They are polypeptides produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates, and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a sense of well-being. In other words, they might work as “natural pain killers.”

A widely publicized effect of endorphin production is the so-called “runner’s high”, which is said to occur when strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production. Endorphins are released during long, continuous workouts, when the level of intensity is between moderate and high, and breathing is difficult. This also corresponds with the time that muscles use up their stored glycogen and begin functioning with only oxygen. Workouts that are most likely to produce endorphins include running, swimming, cross-country skiing, long distance rowing, bicycling, weight lifting, aerobics, or playing a sport such as basketball, soccer, or football.

However, some scientists question the mechanisms at work, their research possibly demonstrating the high comes from completing a challenge rather than as a result of exertion. Studies in the early 1980s cast doubt on the relationship between endorphins and the runner’s high. There were a couple of reasons for this doubt.

The first was that when an antagonist (pharmacological agent that blocks the action for the substance under study) was infused (eg naloxone) or ingested (naltrexone) the same changes in mood state occurred that happened when the person exercised with no blocker.
A second piece of evidence is much more simple. It turns out that scientists cannot make a runner’s high occur in the lab with any certainty. This makes it very difficult to study, much less prove that endorphins cause the runners high.
In recent years, the connection between the “Runner’s High” phenomenon and endorphins has been severed completely. A study in 2004 by Georgia Tech found that Runner’s High was likely triggered by a release of another naturally produced body chemical, the endocannabinoid anandamide. Anandamide is similar to the active chemical THC in Marijuana. The body produces this chemical to deal with prolonged stress and pain from strenuous exercise, similar to the original theory attached to endorphins

What are Endorphins?

Exercise and massage decrease the stress hormones such as cortisol and increases endorphins.  Endorphins are the body’s natural feel good chemicals, and when they are released through exercise, your mood is boosted naturally.  As well endorphins, massage and exercise both also release adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.  These chemicals work together to make you feel good.

Endorphins are defined as hormone-like substances that are produced in the brain and function as the body’s natural painkillers.  During massage or exercise, these endorphins are released, and this can produce feelings of euphoria and a general state of wellbeing.  The endorphins produced can be so powerful that they actually mask pain.  Physically active people recover from mild depression more quickly and physical activity is strongly correlated with good mental health as people age.

Types of Exercise to Release Endorphins

The best type of exercise for improving your mood is cardiovascular exercises and aerobics.  This is because vigorous exercise helps to release the chemicals necessary for the mood-raising high.  Yoga or traditonal Pilates are also great as they reduce tension and stress while improving the mood.  They  focuse on stretching, breathing, and motion that release negative emotions in the bod whilst relaxing you and in the case of Pilates building core strength..

How long do you need to Exercise to Feel the Benefit?

Even if you only exercise for a short period of time, your mood will be improved.  Just fifteen to twenty  minutes of moderate exercisedaily  is enough to improve your mood, your vigour and also decrease fatigue.  However, to obtain all the benefits from exercise, not just the mood improving aspects, you should do at least 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise every day. aA good walk in the early morning before going to work is excellent stretcha little before starting out on your walk and allowa cooling down period for about 15 minutes afterwards if you are doinga power walk. Yoga or a Pilates class three times a week will do wonders for your posture and overall wellbeing as well as your physical appearance and muscle tone and spinal health..





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